Sunday, December 09, 2012

More signs of hope in Honduras

Friday the Dulce Nombre de María parish celebrated the closing of the agriculture project, financed by the Spanish Catholic organization Manos Unidas. I’ve written about this several times before. (Several of the posts can be accessed here.)

The project has been a success, but we are not sure if it will continue. Even though it been only about $2,500 a month, we are waiting to hear from Manos Unidas to hear if they will continue to help finance it.

In early stages the project helped people with tools, fertilizers, and training in improved methods of production of basic grains. It also has helped people learn how to make organic fertilizers and fumigants.

More recently it has included projects of family gardens, as well as the promotion of production of vegetables by organized groups in the community. This helps promote better diet but also generates some funds.

There have also been some efforts in planting trees, both hardwoods and fruit trees.

Agricultural project celebration

Eighteen communities participated in the most recent stage of the project and so it was good to see about 200 come out for the celebration.

It was held in Colonia San José, Dulce Nombre, a small community which was very hard to get to because of a water-soaked road with six inch deep mud at several place. But I got there in the parish truck. (My truck has been in the mechanic’s shop for over a week because of a cracked camshaft.)

There was, of course, a Mass with Padre Efraín, the Dulce Nomrbe pastor, followed by recognition of the communities, songs by the Primos de Occidente of Quebrada Grande and a few cultural events by the young people of the village of Yaruconte.

The two most memorable was a song that Los Primos de Occidente had written on the project, which they promptly named “Huertos familiares/Family gardens”. They sang about “tajadas of plantains and a good salad of fresh vegetables for breakfast.” You can see and listen to it here.

The young people of Yaruconte and several other youth groups had prepared cultural events for their villages. The Yaruconte youth presented an indigenous dance.

   There were also tables of vegetables and fruit that several communities had brought to sell. I bought a few turnips and was given a bag of oranges as I left. 

Looking over the vegetables, I talked with a number of young men who were involved in the project. One was eating a raw carrot, something I seldom see here. He told me he liked carrots. So it appears, at least in one case, the project is helping people diversify their diets.

One event, though, touched me. There is a young man, Toño, from a village who is mentally handicapped. He walked up to the altar and shook Padre Efraín’s hand and then several pastoral workers brought him a chair so that he could sit in front of the altar with them. Instead of marginalizing him because of his differences, he is accepted and welcomed.

The project is important for its results but also for the community organization it promotes. But all this needs to be based on a love of God and neighbor that embraces those who are different. At least in this case, it does.

A water project in San José Quelacasque

The day before I had gone with a group from Caritas of the diocese of Santa Rosa de Copán to San José Quelacasque for the inauguration of their water and sanitation project.

Caritas has worked in San José Quelacasque for four years, first with a Community Management of Reduction of Disasters, project and since January with a water and sanitation project.

It is in many ways, a model project, not just for the latrines, improved piping of water, a system of water meters for houses, but for an improved culture of health which the community has embraced. Thus they hope to conserve their distinction as being the one place in the whole municipality of Gracias where people can drink water from the faucet without worry.

The celebration began with Mass with Padre Loncho, the pastor of the parish of Gracias, Lempira, followed by the blessing of the new water tank. There were songs composed by village members Ester and Joel, as well as several skits from the students. One was particularly funny and appropriate, satirizing a boy sick with diarrhea going to a clinic. There were even pigs rooting around the “clinic” – a true health hazard.

Also, because it was December 6, the feast of Saint Nicholas, San Nicolás showed up and gave out candy. 

After lunch I talked briefly with a representative from the Salvadoran non-governmental organization that has been the conduit for funding. He was impressed with what the people had done and had they had worked together. He noted that the community was poor, relying mostly on the production of basic grains.

If the community continues to be vigilant in its protection and conservation of water and their efforts in maintaining a clean and healthy environment on the community, they will continue to be a model for other communities.

These are small efforts, mostly done with the help of outside agencies but with amazing contributions of the people involved.

These people are the hope for the future of Honduras.

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